Plant Encyclopedia

Prairie Dropseed Grass

Sporobolus heterolepis

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Prairie Dropseed Grass

If you are looking to add some flair to your outdoor space, then the prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) is just the plant for you. With its expressive compact form and rich autumn colors, this plant is an excellent addition to any yard. These spectacular dwarf grasses can thrive in less than ideal conditions. The prairie dropseed plants are must-have items for those rocky and dry environments.

Plant Attributes

These plants can grow up to two to three feet tall as they form a fountain-like foliage mound. The fine-textured leaves are very narrow, and you might notice that some of them are rolled. The plant will grow into medium green clumps, and it has thin leaves that grow up and fan out. Its shape resembles a vase or fountain. During the summer, you can expect to see small pink and brown flowers on the plant. The florets are wind-pollinated, and they often have a scent that is reminiscent of buttered popcorn. The rounded seeds drop to the ground when mature. For that reason, the plant is called a “dropseed.” These seeds are a favorite treat of juncos and sparrows. In the autumn season, its foliage turns into a colorful golden bronze with orange highlights. Since it does not get flattened by snow, it is an excellent plant for winter interest.

Landscape Use

The prairie dropseed does well in mixed borders, meadows, restored prairies, or naturalistic plantings. It also makes a great addition to rain gardens. If you are having issues with erosion, the prairie dropseed grass can add stability to the ground. For those areas with upright forms and bold foliage, this species is the perfect contrasting plant. The fine, flowering appearance fills in those gaps between herbaceous perennials.

This plant can be used in mass plantings. The addition of color in the summer and fall adds another layer of beauty to your outdoor space. These large masses are great as a distinctive border or tall ground cover as it provides green color to your gardens.

When used as an accent specimen plant, you can arrange it to contrast with other plants of various shapes and colors. This plant will contribute color to any space once it has become established in your yard.

Planting & Care for

Prairie Dropseed Grass

This plant thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9. The prairie dropseed grass prefers to be in full sun with well-draining soil. However, it can thrive in rocky and dry soil. This species also performs in heavy clay areas. It will tolerate drought conditions. The prairie dropseed can be used on the upper edges of a rain garden. With this species, you don’t have to worry about pests harming the plant.

There is minimal care for the prairie dropseed grass. While it is a drought-tolerant plant, it will need regular irrigation throughout the first year. These plants require about five years to become fully established in your yard. If you want to keep the plant healthy, you will need to dethatch it once a year. This process removes the dead leaves, and it should be done in the winter or early spring before the growing season.

Additional Information

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Prairie Dropseed Grass

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You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to grow this attractive ornamental grass. You will love the style and texture of the prairie dropseed grass. At Arbor Valley Nursery, we have a massive selection of plants, grasses, and trees, including the prairie dropseed grass. If you would like to add this grass to your inventory, we are happy to help. We can even make other suggestions that will work with this grass variety. For more information about this plant, please take a few minutes to fill out the contact form.

Plant Features

  • Watering Needs: Water regularly – weekly, or more often in the first year.
  • Botanical Pronunciation: spoh-ROB-ah-lus het-er-OH-le-pis
  • Plant type: Perennial, Ornamental Grass
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Herbaceous
  • Growth rate: Slow
  • Average landscape size: Slowly reaches 1 1/2 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide; 3 ft. tall in bloom.
  • Special features: Native to North America, bird-friendly
  • Dramatic Foliage: Color, Easy Care
  • Foliage color: Green
  • Blooms: Summer to Fall
  • Flower color: Brown
  • Flower attributes: Fragrant
  • Garden style: Rustic
  • Design Ideas:This plant can be used in mass plantings. The addition of color in the summer and fall adds another layer of beauty to your outdoor space. These large masses are great as a distinctive border or tall ground cover as it provides green color to your gardens.
  • Companion Plants: Coneflower (Echinacea); Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia); Phlox (Phlox); Aster (Aster); Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum)

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